Here is a chance to win a set of classic Thunderbirds models from our friends at Corgi
comprising of Thunderbirds 1 to 4 along with FAB1

just enter your details at the bottom of the page to be in with a chance of winning this FAB prize !

Thunderbirds are GO!

Many of our readers will have grown up watching the fantastic action adventure series ‘Thunderbirds’, which first appeared on our television screens fifty years ago and managed to totally captivate generations of young people. This science fiction series featured ‘Supermarionation’ puppetry, as a way of bringing the characters to life and, although this may look quite dated in today’s CGI world, it was a much loved and distinctive feature of the show back in the 1970s and 80s. Indeed, recent attempts to update the Thunderbirds series with more contemporary animation techniques, met with some rather negative reactions from a number of enthusiasts, who felt that this new technology detracted somewhat from the enjoyment of the original production. It was certainly a brave decision to attempt to update something as iconic as the original Thunderbirds programmes, but the producers were looking to combine the latest production techniques, with the ‘Supermarionation feel’ of the original filming. Clearly, change of this magnitude was always going to invite comment, but there is certainly no disputing that it was great to see Thunderbirds on our screens again.

The first UK episodes of Thunderbirds appeared on ITV in 1965, but the series has been repeated many times over the years, to the delight of viewers young and old. Interestingly, even though many of us will have extremely fond memories of this series and will probably think that it went on for years, there were actually only 32 episodes produced, but each one has very much stood the test of time – they still bring back many happy memories to this day.

The series marked the exploits of an organisation known as International Rescue, a secret group of people, who were dedicated to saving human life all over the planet and in space. They managed to do this by operating a number of technologically advanced land, sea, air and space vehicles, which are called into service when conventional rescue services simply cannot cope. The most important of these craft are known as ‘Thunderbirds’ and they absolutely captivated the youth of Britain for a great many years.

Perhaps the most iconic craft in the Thunderbirds fleet was the sleek and colourful Thunderbird 1. A variable geometry, hypersonic rocket aircraft, Thunderbird 1 was used as a fast response, rescue zone reconnaissance and mobile control base, which could be despatched to any point on the globe in super fast time. Taking off vertically from Tracy Island itself, the aircraft was piloted by Scott Tracy and was described as a ‘First and Fast’ asset, which was to be seen in almost every episode of the Thunderbirds show. As a speedy reconnaissance aircraft, Thunderbird 1 was usually the first International Rescue aircraft to be sent to any incident, or disaster, so it could effectively assess the appropriate response needed and would then remain in the area as something of a command and control centre. As was seen in a number of Thunderbirds episodes, Thunderbird 1 was also VTOL capable and could land in a horizontal configuration.



Rendered CAD screenshots showing the swing-wing positions


As the initial response aircraft to any rescue situation, Thunderbird 1 is arguably the most famous of the International Rescue craft, particularly as it heralded the exciting start of each episode of the programme.  As Scott climbed into the cockpit of his aircraft and engaged the engines, the beautifully idyllic Tracy Island would transform to accommodate the launch – the swimming pool would slide across to create the opening to allow for launch. Thunderbird 1 would engage engines and blast into the air and on to its latest adventure.

Thunderbird 3 – Red for space rescue



CAD images from the new Thunderbird 3 model


Many of us will remember Thunderbird 3 as being perhaps the least used of the International Rescue craft. It was a rather enigmatic and futuristic looking red coloured rocket, which was again stored and operated from beneath Tracy Island. Usually piloted by Alan Tracy, Thunderbird 3 was a re-useable, SSTO (Single Stage To Orbit) rocket space ship, which was used for space rescue and as a service ship for the orbiting space station Thunderbird 5. It was also seen as a high-speed escort for the massive Zero X aircraft, at the beginning of the feature episode ‘Thunderbirds are Go’.



CAD images from the new Thunderbird 3 model


When required, the rocket would be launched from Tracy Island, passing through the ‘Round House’, before blasting off and into space. Thunderbird 3 was powered by chemical rockets for lift-off, and power boost when necessary, and used an ion drive propulsion system for space flight.


Thunderbird 2 – Giant Transporter


Catalogue image of the classic re-issued Thunderbird 2 and pod


Thunderbird 2 is probably the most interesting of the International Rescue craft, as it was the heavy duty transport aircraft and carried one of six large equipment pods to any rescue area.  Piloted by Virgil Tracy, Thunderbird 2 was a large, green VTOL transport craft, which was totally different to the sleek Thunderbirds 1 and 3, but it’s almost whale-like appearance made it instantly recognisable to millions of Thunderbirds fans all over the world.

When you add the fantastic machines that could be lurking within the rescue pod it was carrying, you have an irresistible combination that made Thunderbird 2 arguably the best-loved Thunderbird of them all. Again launched from the main Tracy Island base, Thunderbird 2 (and attached pod) would emerge from beneath the main building structure, once the disguised rock-face door had been lowered and the palm trees had folded outwards, to allow the aircraft to move forward. It would then taxi to a launch ramp, which would be raised, allowing the craft to blast into the sky and on to its latest mission.

Adding a touch of class to proceedings, International Rescue agent Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward would use FAB 1 to conduct her business in some style. This pink six-wheeled Rolls-Royce was usually driven by her trusty chauffeur Parker and even though this looked like perhaps the most benign vehicle to appear in the Thunderbirds adventure programmes, you messed with FAB 1 at your peril. Featuring an aircraft style, single sliding canopy, FAB 1 was bristling with weapons and gadgets and Parker was well used to using them to maximum effect, in the protection of his ‘M’ Lady’.



A touch of Thunderbird class – Lady Penelope’s FAB 1

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